Posts Tagged ‘breast pump’

Breastfeeding and returning to work

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Lactation room small photoMy girlfriend just returned to work last week after having her baby. I went to visit her yesterday to catch up and see how things were going. While she was glad to be back at work, she was stressing about how she was going to be able to continue breastfeeding. As a Certified Lactation Counselor, I happily told her that breastfeeding after returning to work can be a challenge, but it can be done successfully. Here are some tips to make things a little easier:

Before you return to work

• Talk to your employer and let them know what you need to continue breastfeeding. Employers with more than 50 employees are required to give you reasonable time and a private space (that is not a bathroom) for pumping when you go back to work. If there are less than 50 employees, your employer may still be willing to work with you to enable time and space for pumping breast milk.  It is best to familiarize yourself with the federal and state laws as they pertain to your company, and your specific job (exempt or non-exempt). Here are creative solutions to help you and your employer find ways for you to continue breastfeeding. You can search by industry to find the best solution.  Nursing moms who get support from their employer miss less work and are more productive and loyal to their company.

• Whether you have insurance through the ACA (Affordable Care Act) or private insurance, take the time to learn about your coverage. Here is a great tip sheet from the American Academy of Pediatrics that explains the federal guidelines, the differences in health plans and how it affects breastfeeding. This is a must read! Scroll down to the end for a helpful diagram.

• Start back to work on a Wednesday or Thursday. Consider working a few hours a day at the beginning. Having a shorter work week will allow you to get used to your new schedule and figure out your pumping, milk storage and new daycare routine.

• Get a breast pump. If you need help deciding if you should buy or rent one, read our blog. In many cases, breast pumps are covered through your insurance plan, so be sure to inquire. Proper cleaning of the pump is a must; follow the manufacturer’s directions.

• You will need somewhere to keep your breast milk cold. Make sure you have a small cooler with ice packs to bring to work if there’s no refrigerator, or a bag to keep in the fridge. Have labels handy to mark your bottles with the date you expressed the milk.  Learn guidelines for storing and thawing breast milk, here.

Once you have returned to work

• Express milk during the times you would normally feed your baby.
• Keep breast pads handy in case your breasts leak.
• Pump more on the weekends to increase your milk supply.
• Take care of yourself: get as much rest as you can, eat healthy foods and stay hydrated.

Keep talking with your employer about your schedule and what is or is not working for you.  Share the online resource above, and let them know you’d like to continue working together to make a plan that benefits you both.

Going back to work after having a baby can be a difficult transition for many women. Visit our website to learn tips on how to plan for and manage the transition.

Breastfeeding chat

Monday, August 5th, 2013

breastfeedingBreastfeeding can be a wonderful experience, but it’s not as easy as it looks. It may be hugely beneficial to your baby, which it is, but there’s plenty to learn before your little one arrives. Join the experts: Robin Weiss, a doula, lactation consultant and author of Pregnancy & Childbirth at About.com; Dr. Abieyuwa Iyare, a pediatrician and co-chair of the Breastfeeding Committee and Paula Ferrante, R.N., lactation consultant at Montefiore Medical Center; and our good friends at Text4baby.

Let’s talk. Did you breastfeed? If so, for how long? Did you continue to breastfeed after going back to work? What tips can you share with others? Where can we go for help?

According to new data released by the CDC, nearly 1 out of every 2 women in the U.S. is breastfeeding her baby up to the age of six months. That’s excellent news, but it doesn’t mean we can’t use some help in doing it right and getting more support.

Aug. 1 through 7 is World Breastfeeding Week. Join the conversation on Tuesday, August 6th at 1 PM ET. Be sure to use #pregnancychat to fully participate and get your questions answered.

Are rented breast pumps safe?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

breast-pumpI wrote a post not long ago for nursing moms on types of breast pumps and whether buying or renting was better. Both can be safe and a good option – it really depends on your needs and what your insurance company will cover. A number of breastfeeding women choose to rent or share their friend’s pump and that’s great.

A news release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Jan. 14, 2013) reiterates the importance of understanding what type of machine you’re renting and if it is safe for multiple users. If you are going to use a pump that someone else has used, make sure it is a closed system type designed for multiple users. The FDA advised all women who use rented or second-hand pumps to buy an accessory kit with new breast shields and tubing — even if the existing kit looks clean.

To learn more about breast pumps, visit the FDA’s recently released website on breast pumps.

Women get help for breastfeeding

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

breastfeeding37468747_thmThe expression “breast is best” is one that we have supported for years. Yesterday’s enactment of the Affordable Care Act provisions will make breastfeeding easier and less expensive for mothers who work and still want to breastfeed. When fully implemented, insurers will be required to reimburse for comprehensive lactation support and counseling for new moms without adding co-pays. They also will have to cover the expense of renting breast pumps and other lactation equipment that would allow moms to express their milk.

Gone are the days when nursing women had no choice but to pump in the bathroom. The healthcare reform law also requires employers to provide breastfeeding women a private place other than a bathroom for expressing milk in the year following the birth. Providing new moms with enough time to do this a few times each day is also part of the law.

The number of breastfeeding moms in the U.S. is on the rise. Almost half of all women who begin breastfeeding are still breastfeeding at six months. As with the March of Dimes, a primary goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is improving the health of mothers and their children. “Protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding, with its many known benefits for infants, children, and mothers, is a key strategy toward this goal.” You can learn more about breastfeeding progress in the US by reading the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card.

For more information about breastfeeding, including how to, how long to, a breastfeeding guide and more, visit our website.

Breast pumps – buy or borrow?

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Mothers who are returning to work or school usually need a breast pump. How often you’ll need to pump milk depends on whether you’re feeding your baby only breastmilk or if you’re switching between breastmilk and formula.

There are a variety of pumps available. Women who pump infrequently often prefer manual pumps, while working women commonly like electric double pumps because they shorten the time it takes to use them. There are “open system” and “closed system” pump designs. In both designs, breastmilk flows through the breast shields and tubing and is deposited into containers. In an “open” system, it is possible for some milk to come in contact with parts of the machine.  In a “closed” system, none of the breastmilk can enter the machine, so it is safe for several women to use it by simply changing the shields, tubing and containers. A lactation consultant can help you evaluate your needs and choose wisely.

Shop around until you find the pump that works best for you. Prices for breast pumps vary depending on their features. Be sure to compare costs. Some health insurance companies help pay for a breast pump. Find out if your insurance covers the purchase of a breast pump. Many women will add a breast pump to their baby shower registry so that a few friends can pitch in together. But don’t forget that you will also need to purchase bags or bottles to store the pumped breastmilk.

You may also want to think about renting a breast pump. For many families, this is a cost-effective solution. If you choose to go this route, make sure you rent a “closed” system pump. Talk to your health provider or hospital staff for more information about where to rent a pump. Reusing a friend’s pump is safe, too, as long as you buy new accessories (tubing, storage bags, bottles, nipples). Talk to your health care provider if you’re interested in this option.

Tax help for breastfeeding moms

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Good news during tax time! The IRS has added breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies to the list of items that can be designated as medical expenses for purposes of tax deduction.  They now also will be considered an allowable expense for people who have Flexible Spending Accounts, Medical Savings Accounts and Health Savings accounts.

In the past, the IRS did not consider breast pumps a medical expense, but the Service has now changed its policy.  This is a very positive step for both women and children.  The cost of breastfeeding supplies was a barrier to breastfeeding for many mothers and the decision of the IRS to reverse its ruling was a great victory for nursing mothers everywhere.

Breastfeeding has many health benefits including lowering the risk for many medical conditions for infants including asthma, respiratory illness, infections, leukemia, and type 1 diabetes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children be fed exclusively breastmilk for six months, with continued breastfeeding and appropriate solids for at least one year.  The World Health Organization recommends continuing breastfeeding at least two years.

The March of Dimes is very pleased that breast pumps and medical supplies that assist lactation will now be regarded as a medical expense.  This change in policy was needed and long overdue. It will benefit all women, especially women in the workplace who want to breastfeed their babies.

Premature babies and breastmilk

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

breastfeedingMany premature or sick babies cannot feed from the breast right away.  They’re  not strong enough or mature enough to grasp the suck, swallow, breathe process. However, the benefits of breast milk, including protection from many diseases, may be especially crucial for these babies. A recent study found that very premature babies who received breastmilk soon after birth had higher mental development scores at 30 months and were less likely to be rehospitalized than premature babies who did not receive breastmilk. Breastmilk, however, may need to be supplemented to meet the nutritional needs of small premature babies.

For babies unable to suckle for the first week or two, moms can use a breast pump to express their milk so that the milk can be fed to their babies through a tube or with a dropper. By pumping her breasts, a mother keeps up her milk supply so that her baby can breastfeed when he is stronger.

Don’t be discouraged if it’s time to go back to work and you still want to breastfeed.  You can pump at the office and continue to provide your little one the best food possible.

Weaning from breast to a cup

Friday, February 12th, 2010

My daughter has never taken a bottle or formula. It’s been a wonderful year nursing and bonding with her, but quite honestly I’m ready for the 33381871_thb1next step.  I’m ready to put the nursing bras and breast pump away. She’s able to feed herself now and I’m back at work. It’s time. I’m taking it slowly though and want this transition to happen as naturally as possible.

A couple of months ago I went to one of those warehouse baby stores to purchase a cup for her. There were so many brands and styles to choose from! Some had two handles, some a hard plastic spout, and some had a straw. I figured I’d buy several and let her decide which one she liked the best. When I got home I washed-out one of them and filled it with a little water. I handed the cup to her. She shook it a few times and threw it on the floor. Now what?

This routine happened everyday for weeks. Before offering her a different cup I would demonstrate how to use it, but I think she thought it was a new toy to play with. Shake, toss and watch mom pick it up. Fun! Then one day it just clicked. She put the little straw in her mouth and took a sip. Hooray! She’s been drinking water from it once daily ever since. This was a major milestone for me and a huge step in trying to wean her.

Now that she’s one, we can introduce whole cow’s milk. I’ve heard that some babies don’t like it at first. Keep your fingers crossed that she does. I’ll keep you posted.

Have a nice weekend.

How often to pump while at the office

Monday, May 4th, 2009

There are oodles of women who have a baby, choose to breastfeed and go back to work feeling great that they can continue to provide breastmilk for many months to come.  It takes a little planning and work, but it’s done all the time so don’t be discouraged.

Most moms who work outside the home prefer an electric double pump because they are the most economical with your time.  If you have any questions about pumps, contact a lactation consultant to help you select one that works just right for you.  You will probably need to pump two to three times in a full workday, for about 10 to 15 minutes each time. If you are fortunate to work not far from your child’s daycare, you may be able to coordinate your lunch hour with one of the baby’s feedings.  Ask Human Resources about a flexible lunchtime schedule.

Be sure to wash your hands before pumping and make sure all pump parts and bottles are clean.  (Always keep a good supply of bags or bottles with your pump.)  Refrigerate your breastmilk as soon as possible.  If you don’t have a refrigerator handy, an insulted lunch bag with a “cold pack” in it will do. Your daycare probably has a refrigerator, so if you can stop by to feed the baby at lunchtime, the milk from the morning pumping can go into their fridge or be used for an afternoon feeding.  Freshly expressed breastmilk can be kept at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.  Breastmilk keeps in the refrigerator for 5 days and in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.  Always store the milk in the back of the fridge where it’s coolest.

It’s best if your employer has a private place where lactating mothers can pump, but not all do. Some women without a private office find themselves pumping in the ladies room or even in their car in the parking lot – not your optimal situation!  If this is you, talk to someone in HR.  Mothers of breastfed babies miss work less often because their babies are sick less often, so helping you to continue breastfeeding your baby is in an employer’s best interest.  Ask for help in setting up a private space.

Breastfeeding in public

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

My girlfriend and her husband recently had a beautiful baby boy.  When we visited them and all sat around their coffee table, the baby became noticeably fussy.  My girlfriend took her baby lovingly in her arms, kissed his cheek, and began to nurse.

I was amazed.  What a beautiful thing to be able to share with your child.  I was also impressed by her courage to breastfeed in front of my husband and me.  As natural as breastfeeding is, some women might feel a little self-conscious about doing so in public and may fear making others uncomfortable.

Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural part of life that can be done anywhere.  Most states have laws protecting mom’s right to breastfeed.  In fact, breastfeeding in public is legal any place a mother is allowed to be with her baby.

Once mom starts to get back into her pre-baby routine, it can be hard to schedule the day’s errands around her newborn’s feedings. If you’re out and about, you can try to pack a bottle of expressed (pumped) breastmilk ahead of time. But sometimes, no matter how much you plan, you might find yourself having to nurse your baby in public.

There are lots of things you can do to feel more comfortable. Several companies sell breastfeeding clothes to make breastfeeding discreet. But, any two-piece outfit with a shirt that pulls up (rather than unbuttons) can work well. Once your baby is latched on to your breast, you can settle the shirt hem so that little or no breast shows. Practice in front of a mirror until you feel confident.  If you’re particularly shy, a vest, poncho or sweater can provide additional coverage from the side.  Also, ask your employer if there is a lactation policy or a place where you can breastfeed or pump milk in private.

However you choose to breastfeed, just be sure that YOU are comfortable!